Slow and steady wins the race — and it also proves to be invaluable when stealing priceless artifacts. As long as slow and steady describe your metahuman powers, of course.
The latest threat to Central City is actually one Cisco has been chasing since the heyday of the Reverse-Flash’s reign of terror, and only Barry’s been in the dark about this pet project. And while the 30-something Metahuman Not-a-Ninja Turtle presents the clear and present danger during “Potential Energy,” it is the looming threat of Zoom that has Barry truly worried. Unfortunately, his inner turmoil is outwardly affecting his relationships, particularly with Patty, while the Wests contend with drama of their own.
“Potential Energy” finds Barry and Patty in a good place — other than the flaming roses, of course — but their date goes awry when Zoom zips onto the scene, grabs Patty, and throws her off a roof.
It’s all just a dream, but it’s a recurring nightmare Barry fears will come to pass, that Zoom will find and kill the ones he loves. And more than that, Barry won’t be fast enough to stop him.
Patty is certainly no ditz, and she knows something is consuming Barry’s thoughts, but it’s the particulars she’s fuzzy on. She even seeks Iris’ advice on how to crack the code that is Barry, the man who runs around with the weight of the world on his shoulders. She attempts to break through, and Barry admits that the holidays bring back the memories of his mother’s murder. Patty understands because for any non-human, that explanation would be more than enough to explain away the tossing and turning.
But there’s still the matter of Barry’s superhero identity hidden away, and Iris suggests to Barry it may finally be time to tell her. And in a nice piece of meta-dialogue, Iris admits how problematic it was to keep her in the dark for so long last year.
So Barry decides now is the time to bring Patty into the fold, and what better time to do so than in the midst of a metahuman trap. Team Flash is on the hunt for the Turtle, a meta Cisco has been tracking for months. The Moby Dick to his Captain Ahab, the Turtle has the ability to slow down time around him, appearing like a blur to those caught in his wake when he is in fact moving at a normal speed.
He steals expensive items not for their monetary value but for the personal weight they all carry, and while Barry thinks capturing a baddie with a nickname like “Turtle” will be a breeze, their first encounter is a slow-mo torture session. At CCPD, the Turtle freezes the scene, including the Flash, whose fast-moving particles allow him to at least somewhat move in the midst of the Turtle’s waves of slowdown mojo.
The team finds the next likely target for the Turtle at an art show, to which Barry invites Patty along (after realizing the scheme interferes with their date plans). Cisco is on board for Barry revealing his secret to her, though Caitlin has her doubts, and Harry outright tells Barry to protect Patty and not involve her in this side of his life.
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Barry initially moves forward with his plan, showing up dressed to the nines with Caitlin and Jay at the art show. (Cisco and Harry, ever the enjoyably mismatched duo, are stuck on surveillance van duty, where Cisco learns just how Zoom got his name, putting Cisco in his place for mocking the moniker he didn’t invent.)
The night is smooth sailing at first — Patty appears and almost knocks Barry off his feet (she very well may have, and he just too quickly picked himself back up for any of us to notice), and the two begin dancing in a scene full of much more chemistry than whatever is happening between Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince in this photo.
As narrative fate, would have it, though, just as Barry is primed to reveal his secret to Patty, he spots the Turtle in action. Barry rushes off to change from his penguin suit into his superhero one, reappearing on the scene just as Patty spots the Turtle stealing a painting. She draws her gun, but the Turtle uses his powers to disarm her and possibly seal her fate.
NEXT: Is this the end for Barry and Patty?
He almost kills Patty by shooting down the chandelier above her head as Barry pushes through the Turtle’s force to save Patty. He knocks her out of the way only to be hit by the falling light fixture himself, but that fast-healing body of his has him back in action in no time.
Of course, his superheroics make Barry look like a terrible boyfriend, leaving his girlfriend in mortal peril with not so much as a follow-up “u ok” text. Barry stops by her apartment hoping to make things right, but Patty is genuinely (and rightly) upset with him. She’s had fun, but she wants more, and she needs Barry to figure out what he wants if this relationship is going to have legs.
Barry chooses not to reveal his secret here, leaving Patty alone while he regroups. But she’s paid a visit by an unexpected guest, as the Turtle comes to kidnap her and bring her back to his museum of stolen memories.
He believes she’s what the Flash cares about most, and so he’ll make her a living monument just as the Turtle did to his wife when she threatened to leave him. He’s even got a glass display case ready to go for Patty.
Barry returns to Patty’s apartment to find a few bullets on the ground and Patty nowhere in sight. Thanks to a little brainstorm back at S.T.A.R. Labs, the group finds the Turtle’s presumed hideout. Barry, foregoing some of the resolutions this season that have tried to cram in scientific explanations, decides to wing it. (For the sake of not making this a physics class, I’ll refrain from touching all of the discussion of potential and kinetic energy.) He rushes to save Patty and fights his way in between blasts of the Turtle’s time-slowing energy with a little momentum, knocking this latest meta out and saving Patty once again.
“Thank you, whoever you are,” Patty says as she hugs the Flash, and Barry once again bites back the truth. Unfortunately, Barry may never know if telling Patty would have strengthened or hurt their relationship as she’s planning to return to school in Midway City. It’s time for her to move on now that she’s found her father’s killer, not just from her current job but from everything in Central. (Hopefully this is not the end of Patty’s presence on the show forever because it would be a shame to lose the chemistry between Grant Gustin and Shantel VanSanten.)
And while Patty is leaving Central, Wally West looks to be sticking around, despite the fraught beginnings of his time in town. The Wests invite Wally over for dinner, only for him to bail on Joe’s attempts to be the father he never was to his newfound son. Joe had Barry to raise, but Wally being his biological son means something different to him (and the more excuses to give Jesse L. Martin great emotional material to work with, the better).
Wally is less enthusiastic about slipping into a father-son relationship with Joe, though. He’s in town street racing (in a sequence that is oddly reminiscent of last year’s better-forgotten Fantastic Four), but like Dominic Toretto, he’s a racer with good intentions. His winnings go toward paying his mother’s hospital bills. He doesn’t want help from a man who he is still angry at for never being part of his life.
Joe is finally able to make a little headway, though, apologizing to Wally for trying to force family on the boy. (Iris will likely also have more to work out with her brother in the weeks to come; her priorities this week are less about her family and more about being a supportive and sensible friend to Barry and Patty.) He’s willing to take things more slowly than he may have wanted if that means keeping Wally around. For now, it works, but how will Joe’s biological son contend with his adopted one when Wally and Barry finally meet?
Zoom on the Horizon
Although smaller aspects of the episode, some Earth-2 seeds were sown as Harry, willing to do anything to save his daughter, prepares for an eventual showdown with Zoom. He seemingly sucks the Turtle’s meta-abilities from his body (and possibly kills him in the process), which could be used, as Cisco suggested, to slow Zoom down rather than focus on Harry’s other plan of action — making Barry faster.
Zoom’s fate is also tied to Jay’s as well. Caitlin discovers Jay is sick, and there’s no cure science can create. Instead, they need to retrieve his speed force from Zoom and restore him to his former flashy glory; otherwise, Jay is not long for this, or his, world.
Before Barry can tackle Zoom, though, it looks like the one foe he thought had been defeated, Reverse-Flash, a.k.a. Professor Thawne, is back. We’re confused about where he is, but he’s most certainly back, though to what end remains a mystery for now.